For everyone What’s your best advice for a new teacher?

  • 8 May 2024

With pre-service teachers starting placements in schools, we asked AEU members: what’s the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you as a pre-service or new graduate teacher?


Not every lesson has to be fun. It’s ok to use the textbook!
Hannah Jayde

Be open-minded. Try things. Take advice, observe, listen and learn. You’re very new and that’s okay. Be flexible… ‘real’ school is chaos and that is the way it is. And join your Union.
Amy Debyew

As a PST it seems like there is so much to know and learn, but lots of what experienced teachers do comes with practise. Remember we all started at the same place, as a PST who didn’t know as much!
Karissa Jayne

1. When you don’t know the answer, admit it. Enjoy the mistakes you make in front of kids. Laugh them off. Kids need to see that adults make mistakes and just bounce back. So long as nobody dies, most mistakes don’t really matter.
2. Have fun. Every day if you can.
3. It is the child you most wish to push away (due to behaviour etc) that you need to draw in closest.
Brendan Paterson

Be kind and professional to everyone, including the librarian, cleaner, office staff, canteen staff, gardeners. You are all on the same team. And who knows when you might be able to help each other out?
Hakea HS

Be the hook, establish relationships and then teach.
Scott Logan

Your work is your livelihood, not your life. … You can’t get all those weekends and evenings back. It doesn’t make you a less dedicated, caring, effective and professional teacher to not take work home.
Sandra Salmon

Don’t expect a polished performance, just do your best and keep swinging.
Con Chrys

Plan and schedule your mental health priorities like exercise or crafting to keep you feeling like you.
Pamela Mitzi

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Use whatever resources you can access and adapt.
Lisa Gunder

Remember that remaining calm and emotionally regulated is the foundation of supporting positive behaviour.
Robbie Last




AND SOME MORE ADVICE…

Take on as many opportunities as you’re able while you have a designated passenger driver there to support you. Develop a good rapport with your mentor and you’ll both learn more. 👍🏼😊
Robyn Rebecca

No one actually knows what they’re doing! All we do is use strategies that worked previously and hope they work in the new context. The skill comes in being able to adapt when it doesn’t work.
Ben Dennis

Join the union.
Louise McDade-Cartey

Your urge to plot out every activity minute by minute is totally valid. It will get easier!! It’s ok to finish all the tasks early (one big early teacher fear)! Have something general or fun to whip out. Nothing wrong with it. The students will forget small mishaps or technical difficulties, finishing class early or skipping through something to adjust. Don’t sweat it, and just be a person. Make the structure of lessons first (scrappy is fine) and then refine afterwards if you have the chance so you prioritise sleep. Can be basic and do pen and paper. Sometimes the better lessions involve set work where you can circulate and help, so don’t be scared to do “boring” ones too.
Emma Bleazby

You can learn just as much from your lessons that don’t go to plan as you can from those you nail. Don’t be too hard on yourself, even experienced teachers don’t get it right 100% of the time. Learn from it all!
Rebecca Campbell

Ask alllllllll the questions!
Shannon Harvie

Keep notes about students from day one. Record things you might think are little, but a bigger picture will begin to develop.
Keep a photo diary so you know the student’s face and name.
Even a tick page of emotions, outcomes and observations will help.
Debbie-ann Johnson

Prioritise going to the toilet or you’ll end up with long-term health issues!
Jess Heffernan

Day one, find your union rep and join the union.
Amy Muratore

Get to know your ES members in the class you are in. They are a wealth of knowledge that is often overlooked.
Simone Tamp


Take on board the feedback your supervising teacher gives you, and don’t see it as a harsh criticism of your capability.
Simon James

Ask questions, there’s not such thing as a stupid question AND take risks and try new things in lessons! That’s why you have a teacher working alongside you!
Sarah Ann

You have a chance to really make your mark. You are going to be learning and teaching simultaneously and you are going to be seeing some amazing and some not-so amazing practices. Absorb both. Ask questions. Also, do not doubt yourself!
Michael Dean

If you find your calling it can be the best job!
Nicholas Crowe

Focus on nailing one piece of the lesson structure at a time. Meaning, don’t stay up super late planning amazing full lessons. Instead, use placements as a chance to try several different forms of starting or reflection activities. Then reflect upon these with your mentor.
Timothy Friel

Well, I didn’t need to be told, but join the Union!
Dee Sanders

Build strong relationships with staff and children! Have fun, educate the whole human, not just the academic. Ask your mentor how they work smarter and not harder!
Rachelle Flower

Assume every piece of feedback is given with positive intent. It will be much easier to reflect on and to improve/adjust your practice (and make you a better teacher) if you remove the view that you’re being criticised and/or judged. Listen to student voices and adjust. Even the best planned lessons can miss the mark. Don’t be afraid to completely change gears in the middle of a lesson rather than push through with something that’s not working (take this advice and adapt it to your personal life too).
Keah-Paige Harrison

It’s all about relationships.
Nicolle Dunell

Remember, you too are a learner and it’s OK to make mistakes. 😊
Laura Jones

I had some great pre-service teachers. I learnt lots from them too!
Fiona Gibson Barrie

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